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Oklahoma Gardening

Transcript for April 15, 2017

Oklahoma Gardening

(upbeat instrumental music)

>>> Spring bulbs add such vibrant color to our garden,

they're like an alarm clock for the rest of the plants telling them to wake up and start growing.

That's why we plant 'em after all.

And we enjoy that bright color.

But what do you do after their last red petal has fallen off the tulip,

and the last yellow daffodil starts to take it's final bow as it dries on the stem?

You could ask a number of people and probably get a few different responses,

but I want to let you know the really the best way to handle this.

The best thing to do for your hearty bulbs is just to leave them be and let them die naturally back.

You see, hearty bulbs are like a rechargeable battery.

And they've just spent a lot of energy giving us this beautiful show.

And if we were to cut back this foliage now,

we're basically pulling them off their charger too soon.

The way they recharge that battery, or the bulb, is through photosynthesis.

And they've got these long, strappy leaves

and they're needing to continue to photosynthesize in order to recharge that battery.

If you cut this foliage off now, then you're shortening the life of that bulb.

Now some people know not to cut them back, but they want a little bit more decorative look.

So they might braid them, or bend them over and tie them with a rubber band.

But all plants have what is known as xylem and phloem.

And that's what moves the water and the nutrients

and also the starches through that plant, making photosynthesis work.

It's kind a like we have veins.

Now if you think of xylem and phloem as straws,

when you braid them or bend them,

what you're doing is actually breaking those straws, or the xylem and phloem.

Unintentionally, of course.

But it prevents that nutrient from moving around, as well as the water and starches.

So, again, you're basically pulling the plant off of the charger.

And not allowing it to recharge its battery, or the bulb down below.

If you do this year after year, you're shortening the life of the battery, I mean, bulb.


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>>> We are here at Greenleaf Nursery in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

And joining me is Randy Davis, the president of Greenleaf Nursery.

Thank you for joining us.

>>> Thanks for coming today, Casey.

>>> It is so beautiful out here, and you just see fields and fields of color.

You guys are a wholesale grower.

Can you kind a tell me about the history of Greenleaf?

>>> [Randy] Okay, we were started, we're a family-owned nursery, stared by the Nickel family.

And in 1945, they started a little cash and carry operation in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

And in 1957, John Nickel, one of the sons, got interested in the nursery business.

And so they purchased an 80-acre farm here on Lake Tenkiller, and started growing in containers.

And at that time, growing in containers, growing plants, was kinda new.

So, they had to do a lot of research and figure out exactly to go about it and they started and basically grew it here on the lake.

And then in 1971, they purchased some land in Texas.

>>> Okay.

>>> And started a nursery in El Campo, Texas which is

>>> Under the same name?

>>> Under the same name Green Leaf Nursery Company

and then in 1998, they purchased land in Tarboro, North Carolina and started a nursery in North Carolina.

This location is about 600 acres now, currently.

>>> [Interviewer] And you are at capacity here?

>>> [Man] Pretty much at capacity, Yes.

And then the Texas nursery is about 500 acres almost as large as this one.

And North Carolina, right now, is about 150 to 200 acres.

And it's probably where we'll do more of the growing it's kind of the newer operation.

And then we're taking advantage of the market up the East Coast.

We already had a lot of customers that we serve from this location but it were a lot closer to that market place out in Tarboro

>>> [Interviewer] Well, so often we are at nurseries and we see this Green Leaf tags on our plants but we don't where those plants are coming from.

So they could be coming from any of those three locations?

>>> [Man] They could be.

>>> [Interviewer] And they are shipped nationally?

>>> Yes, correct.

We ship basically east of the Rocky Mountains.

We don't ship much out west.

There is a lot of nurseries out there and a lot of restrictions on shipping western.

So, basically, we are east of the Rocky Mountains.

>>> Now, OSU and Green Leaf had a long history.

In fact, you went to OSU also.

>>> That's correct.

>>> And many of your employees?

>>> That's correct.

And one of the first employees of Green Leaf Nursery was a professor at OSU Austin Kenyan.

So they hired him away from OSU to come help them around the nursery.

And then I started here when I was 16 years old, in 1971.

And Austin Kenyan was kind of running the nursery at that time

and he came up to me one day and asked me where I was gonna go to college

and got me interested in OSU and then they paid my way to Oklahoma State to get a degree in horticulture

and then I came back here and have worked here now for 40 years,

and worked my way up through the company to president of the company now.

And it's a company that I'm very passionate about,

great people, still owned by that same family and they really do take care of their people.

So it's a great people.

>>> I have to say, everyone we've met here has seemed so nice and it feels like you are a part of a family, just being on the property.

>>> Yes.

>>> The employees, it must take a lot of employees to do all of this work.

>>> It does, we have about 1200 company wide.

Here at this location, we'll be somewhere between 450 to 600 we are very seasonal in the spring time.

That's when you do most of your gardening.

So, the spring is very busy here.

We work a lot of hours in the spring,

shipping our product out, to get it into garden centers

and we mostly supply the independent garden centers.

>>> [Interviewer] Okay, so tell me a little bit about growing.

You have such great quality.

We can just look behind us, the consistency of all of the plants.

Do you not only grow the plants in containers but do you trowel them as well?

>>> We do, we have trowel gardens here on the nursery where we really test the plants

and then we also have trowel gardens throughout the United States,

we have some in Dallas, some in Saint Louis, some in Kansas city, some at Stillwater, we work with OSU testing plants.

We use a sales model of predictable quality

and basically that's because we have a lot of customers that are unable to come to the nursery each year and see our product.

So, we want them to know that each year they are gonna get predictable quality

and so our plants, we want them, to everyone be just exactly the same and so we use

Genetically they are all the same

and we do a lot of shearing to grow good quality plants

and make it to our customers know what they're gonna get.

We want them when they open that truck of Green Leaf plants,

we want them to say, "Wow! Those are beautiful.

" So, we work very hard to having predictable quality plants.

And then we have a new product line called Garden Debut

and what we are doing with it, is introducing superior plants.

It could be trusted selections,

older plants maybe that did not get marketed or that really perform well

but a lot of the times, we are bringing new product and a good example would be Yaupon Holly.

The regular Yaupon, when you put it in your landscape gets kind of big.

And we have a new one called Micron that stays real small.

That is just a superior plant if you need small plants.

So, we have a lot of plants like that that we are bringing along in our Garden Debut brand and introducing it.

>>> So every year there is new introductions with Garden Debut?

>>> Every year there is new introductions.

And you know it's pretty exciting because it's new.

It's either more fragrant or wholes color better has better fur color, bloom's better, better disease resistance.

It could be a multitude of different things but we are just improving on the current plants.

We are really not, quotes, developing new plants but we are improving on what we already have out there.

Making it a lot more .

Making an opportunity to have success in your landscape a lot higher and that's important.

>>> And with growing that stuff, you are not talking about this season.

You guys work on a calendar that's further advanced than ours.

>>> We really do.

>>> You know, in the production area, you are probably working on two years?

>>> We really are, we are projecting at sometimes, four and five years.

Some of this plants, especially the larger sizes, they take four, five, six years to actually come to fruition to be ready to plant in the landscape.

>>> [Interviewer] Right.

>>> [Man] So, it does take some planning.

>>> So in addition to all of the plants that you're growing here, there's another component of Greenleaf that you're very proud of also,

that plays to the environment that we're in.

Can you talk about your sustainability practices?

>>> Yes, we take that very serious.

We're located here on the banks of Lake Tenkiller,

which is one of the most pristine lakes in the world.

And so we take it serious.

And we recycle all of our water.

And we do that at all of our locations, not just this one.

We catch it in concrete ditches or different ways to get it back into a area where we can recycle it and reuse it, put it back on the plants.

That keeps sediment and fertilizer, chemicals from going into the lake.

And so we recycle our water.

We recycle our plastic.

And we actually use a hay baler, a round hay baler, that will bale up the plastic.

And it looks like a round bale of hay when you get finished.

And then we load it on a semi and send it to the recyclers.

And we reuse our containers every opportunity we can.

So, basically, anything that we can recycle, we do.

>>> Randy, I feel like I'm in Hidden Valley here.

I mean it's just beautiful and thank you for sharing this with us.

>>> Well thank you for taking time to come today.

We really appreciate it, and we appreciate your show and what it does to gardening in Oklahoma.

So thank you very much for being here.


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>>> Today, joining us, is Doctor Eric Rebek, who is the entomology specialist here on OSU's campus.

And Doctor Rebek's joining us in order to tell us about a new pest that has been identified in the state of Oklahoma.

And that is the emerald ash borer.

>>> [Dr. Rebek] That is correct.

>>> [Casey] Tell us about what that means for Oklahoma.

>>> Well right now, we're relatively uncertain as to what it means.

We do know what the impact could be for our ash trees,

which is the preferred host plant for this invasive wood boring beetle.

And as of today, we know that there has been one find in Delaware County.

One beetle was caught on one monitoring trap last October.

And monitoring efforts are going to continue this year with USDA APHIS and in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture.

>>> So we have several native ash as well as some planted ash around the state.

>>> That is correct.

>>> And all of those are susceptible to this.

How is this emerald ash borer moving around?

>>> Yeah, so we have many native as well as planted maintained ash in the state.

And that emerald ash borer is moving around, primarily, through the movement of firewood.

So people come in to go camping, go fishing, go hunting.

They're bringing infested wood from an outside source, and now we have a new infestation site where they've moved that firewood if they leave it.

>>> [Casey] So that's why it's really important to buy your firewood at the location

>>> Yeah, buy your firewood locally.

That's gonna help not only with preventing the spread of emerald ash borer, but other potential invasive species of insects, diseases that can affect our trees.

>>> [Casey] Is this insect all around Oklahoma already?

Or is it in surrounding states?

>>> So far, as far as we know it is in Oklahoma, it's just Delaware County.

Just that one find.

But it is in surrounding states.

Previously, it's been found in Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Kansas, as well a Colorado.

So it literally is surrounding us.

And it's likely more than just that location in Delaware County,

and that's why monitoring efforts are going to continue to try to find out exactly where the infestation is.

>>> [Casey] Okay, so let's talk about the insect itself.

What is it doing to the tree?

And what are some of the symptoms?

>>> Sure.

So ultimately it's going to kill the tree.

We know that.

Whether it's a white ash, green ash, blue ash, black ash, any of our native North American species are susceptible to this beetle.

As far our symptoms are concerned with trees,

typically we see thinning of the canopy.

Typically the upper third of the canopy starts to die back.

Over time it gets worse.

Eventually the entire tree is dead.

So initially we start seeing that thinning of the canopy.

That's a really good tell-tale symptom that we've got a problem.

>>> [Casey] It's starting to weaken.

>>> We also might see the development of epicormic shoots that are forming.

Or what we call adventitious growth.

The tree's last gasp to try to create through photosynthesis it's own food.

>>> [Casey] Which just means shoots that are kinda irregular and kinda not where they're supposed to be coming from.

>>> That's right.

Usually out of the trunk, out of the limbs, places where you're not expecting to see any foliage.

Sometimes even out of the roots, you'll see them popping up out of the ground, these adventitious shoots.

And there are other symptoms as well.

Increased woodpecker attacks on ash trees are a good symptom, or a good sign, that you've got a problem with an ash borer.

>>> Are they looking for the borer?

>>> They're looking for the borer; that's right.

So if you see an increased attack rate on those trees, that's a good symptom, or a good sign.

>>> [Casey] So typically borers make exit holes.

Is there the same symptom with the emerald ash borer as well?

>>> Yeah, that's a very common sign that those beetles have exited that tree.

They've completed their life cycle as larvae feeding within the tree itself.

When they exit they do leave distinctly D-shaped exit holes, or emergence holes, where those beetles have come out from.

And if you're seeing those, that distinct D-shaped exit hole on an ash tree,

That's an indication you've got emerald ash borer, 'cause they are the only type of wood borer we call flat-headed borers that leave that kind of shape as they emerge from the tree.

That's the only species that attacks ash, so.

>>> Okay, and so if somebody finds out that they might have this on their tree, is there a treatment for this?

>>> Yeah, right now, insecticides are the only way to deal with it at the moment.

Typically systemic insecticides, systemic materials you might trunk-inject or soil-drench around the root zone.

But, cautionary tale here,

if you have an ash tree and you're not in an area where emerald ash borer has been found, there's no need to treat.

We're recommending that,

if you're within five miles of a recent emerald ash borer find,

and you do want to save your ash trees,

then it's the right time to treat and we can find more information about that contacting your local extension office.

They can put you in touch with folks like myself,

but we can also go to


And they, it's kind of the information warehouse for all things emerald ash borer.

In our state, for extension materials,

we have L-443, which is the signs and symptoms as we've already discussed of emerald ash borer,

and then there's L-461, which talks about native insects that do use ash trees

and it also talks about potential lookalikes that could be confused by people as far as, is this emerald ash borer or not?

So, common lookalike insects are in that one.

>>> Okay, so right now, there shouldn't be panic, but people should be aware that it has been identified in Delaware County, which is up in northeastern Oklahoma.

>>> That is correct.

>>> And you guys are monitoring the process.

>>> Yes.

>>> But thank you for joining us today and giving us an update.

>>> Thanks for having me, Casey.


(upbeat music)


>>> We're here at the Community Foodbank of eastern Oklahoma,

and joining us is John McCarthy, who is the Director of the Community Initiative,

and John, we're standing in front of some of your raised beds.

They look nice and ready to go.

>>> We are getting ready for our planting, for our spring planting.

We have lots of volunteers that come in and help us out from time to time,

and you know, these beds, we do just sort of traditional growing out here.

We'll get a spring garden in now, although the weather's getting warm,

and then a little later on, we'll plant it for summer crops.

>>> [Anchor] So what's some of your popular produce that you grow in here?

>>> Well we did have some tomatoes last year that did really well.

We also, you know, we had radishes and other leafy greens that did really well, so.

>>> And it's mainly volunteers that really help with this?

>>> Yes, volunteers do, they help out.

I wish we had more of them when the summer weather hits

and it gets a little warm, it's a little difficult recruiting,

but we've got some good volunteers that help us out.

>>> [Anchor] So any of those people that live in apartments and are looking for a place to garden,

this would be a great place to volunteer, huh?

>>> [John] Exactly.

>>> [Anchor] And so, you have some traditional gardens here.

What's behind us?

We've got some storage containers.

Can you tell us a little bit what might be in there?

>>> Okay, so the containers over here are shipping containers that have been converted.

They're called grow-tainers, and there are basically vertical hydroponic system in there.

>>> Can we go take a look?

>>> Yeah, let's go look.

>>> All right, good deal.

Wow John, this is .

You gotta give your eyes a minute to adjust to this light.

>>> Yes, the lights in here are special LED lights made specifically for growing vegetables.

>>> [Anchor] Yeah, so it's the particular wavelength that this lettuce likes,

it's not actually this color that we're seeing, right?

>>> [John] That's right, it's a bright green but it kind of looks purplish-black.

>>> [Anchor] Yeah.

>>> [John] In the light here.

>>> 'Cause the lights are kind of the blueish-red light wavelengths that we're seeing.

>>> And what I could do, do you want me .

I could turn lights on, so we could see what it actually looks like.

>>> Okay, all right.

>>> We flip this light on.

>>> [Anchor] Oh, look at that.

>>> [John] And then we can pull one of these out, take a look at it.

>>> [Anchor] It's magic.


>>> [John] It is, it's nice.

>>> [Anchor] Well, it's a beautiful crop that you've got growing in here.

Can you tell us about this system?

>>> So, yes, about a year ago we had an opportunity to apply for a grant with the Morningcrest Health Foundation,

and we were looking at things that we really needed and wanted,

and one of the things is we're really trying to put more produce into our system for our partner agencies

and our own direct service programs, so we wanted we're always looking for more produce.

And so we were thinking, wouldn't it be cool if we had a way to produce our own, so we have the raised beds out there that produce some,

but the thing that's nice about this, and it's, you know, we can do this year round.

>>> Yeah, and lettuce is something that we can't grow year round.

>>> [John] That's right, so you know, like every 30 days we're harvesting lettuce, and we can do that all year round.

Anyway, we applied for this grant,

we tracked down this system,

it's called a grow-tainer,  and the thing that's nice about it is it has these vertical growing racks that are hydroponic,

and so, basically what we have is nutrient solution in these tubs down at the bottom of the racks,

and then every four hours, a pump kicks on, and it pumps water up into these racks here,

and so, they kinda floods the bottom of the rack, and that pump stays on for like three minutes, just enough to moisten these little rockwool cubes that the product's growing in,

and then after three minutes, the pump shuts off and all that water drains back down into the tub,

and so like I said, we do that six times, every four hours,

so six times a day,

and then the lights, they stay on for 18 hours, and then they're off at night for six,

and that's supposedly good, ideal growing conditions for the lettuce.

>>> [Woman] So you got the lights covered, you got the nutrition covered

>>> We got the, there's air control, so we have fans in here, and we also have a heat pump that keeps the temperature in here around 70 to 75 degrees.

We also have some of these, they're carbon dioxide producing little canisters,

and we have those in here as well,

because the plants are using carbon dioxide in their growing process,

so these produce extra carbon dioxide to help make it more ideal conditions for growth.

>>> So then you're giving 'em the optimal growing conditions,

and you're able to harvest lettuce every three weeks, three to four weeks?

>>> Four weeks, yes, something like that, so this is like a salad mix, or a mescaline mix, we're also growing sort of a hybrid romaine lettuce here,

which is shorter, but it's a really nice, beautiful lettuce,

and then we also have these butterhead lettuce, and again, these take, the romaine and butterhead take a little bit more than 30 days to grow.

>>> And the roots on there are just in the water.

>>> So this system, we plant these, this little cube is called, it's made of rockwool,

and it's a product, and it's just a fibrous kind of material,

and the thing that's nice about it is when it gets wet, it will absorb that water,

but it doesn't leave it drenched in water, so again,

when we water every four hours, it just sucks up water,

and then the roots can take it in, but it doesn't sit and rot the root, so it dries out in between.

And so when we start this, we just, we have big sheets of what they call starter plugs,

I wish I had brought one in, it's just a little bitty plug that's in sheets like 120 little cells per sheet,

and we just put a couple seeds in each of the starter plugs,

and cover that, they sit in the trays here and get the water, the solution.

>>> [Woman] So while they're small, you're able to start several plants in a small space, and then expand them

>>> Yeah, and so, the thing's that nice is then after they germinate, come up,

we can split those little cubes off,

and then they actually, once they get bigger,

they get set right inside this

>>> [Woman] Oh yeah, you can see it there.

>>> You can see the little plug that gets set in a hole right in the top of this thing,

and then it can continue to grow.

>>> Excellent, well, it seems like you can produce a lot of food in this very small space.

>>> So this space with the, we have 10 of these grow racks,

each of 'em have four shelves on 'em, so we can get 1,800 plants going in here at one time, so,

and if looking at, say, every month that we can turn that around, that's pretty nice.

>>> [Woman] And I think one of the things that makes these lettuce leaves look so exceptional is there's no holes in 'em!

You have no insects or bugs in here!

>>> Or bunnies eating

>>> Or bunnies, yes!

>>> [Man] Out on the other garden.

>>> [Woman] So it's a natural protection being in here.

>>> [Man] Yes, yeah, there's no real pests in here.

>>> [Woman] So all of this is organically grown, then.

>>> [Man] It is, we've harvested that like hours before it actually goes out and is given out to the clients, so.

>>> [Woman] You can't get more fresh than that.

>>> That's great.

>>> Thank you, John.

>>> [John] Yeah.